RETAIL & HOSPITALITY

Saudi Arabia 2020 | ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURE & SPORTS | B2B

Saudi Arabia's shopping centers are offering opportunities to retailers and realtors looking to capitalize on a changing regulatory environment. ACC and Alkhozama Management Company are responding to the challenge.

Olivier Nougarou
OLIVIER NOUGAROU
CEO
Arabian Centers Company (ACC)
Abdulaziz Al Habib
ABDULAZIZ AL HABIB
President
Alkhozama Management Company

What are your latest steps as a company?

OLIVIER NOUGAROU We have been working hard over the last 20 years to get the company to a point where it can be listed. It makes perfect sense for both management and shareholders to try and capitalize on how much work has gone on within the company in regards to its IPO listing. It can only be a good thing when a company like ACC gains international exposure. The company has great potential, just as Saudi Arabia has. If you look at Saudi Arabia from a purely commercial real estate perspective, there are a lot of things that are unique compared to larger markets. Retail real estate supply is much lower than most of the other GCC markets.

ABDULAZIZ AL HABIB We are working closely, not only with the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), but also with other relevant authorities to deliver the best experience to Saudi residents and overseas visitors. We recently concluded a successful collaboration with GEA as part of the Jeddah Season, with pop-up restaurants and a range of events. Because of the success, we are already working to replicate this at Al Soudah Season in September, followed by more events in Riyadh, Diriyah, AlUla, and elsewhere. The feedback from both domestic and international visitors has been extremely positive, and we are working to expand our entertainment and hospitality offerings over the coming months and years.

What trends in the market are you looking at?

ON On a global scale, people have become somewhat afraid of commercial real estate with the advent of online retail. This fear is unnecessary. Many purely online retailers in the US are, in fact, starting to open physical stores, illustrating that we are already at the next step. The Saudi market is evolving to reach international standards. This room for growth is where there is so much potential. ACC has a real chance to be a leader in this space. Gaining additional exposure with international investors will allow us to really solidify our position in the market. Investors' appetites were reflected in our IPO. International investors are already aware of plans applied in the best malls in the world. They have a benchmark in mind that they are hoping to achieve, and we offer an approach that lives up to their expectations.

AAH Saudi consumers are like other consumers around the world, just a bit younger and more sophisticated. With strong competition from e-commerce, malls today have to deliver more than just goods and merchandise to attract top consumers and retail brands. We recognize these trends and are working with experts to create an environment that will attract more customers. Visitors to our malls will find exciting new restaurant concepts, cinemas, and other entertainment options for families and adults alike, special events, and a selection of top retail brands. We envision families and individual consumers looking forward to a visit to our facilities for both shopping and leisure.

What are your strategic priorities and ambitions going forward?

ON Our plan is to open eight additional shopping centers over the next four years, while finishing two expansions. On average, we have opened one mall per year over the last 17 years. That is why opening eight in the next four years is ambitious. With 17 years in operation, our track record is both long and short. If you compare us to most of the real estate players worldwide, we have grown a huge amount in a short period. Our shareholders had a strong vision from the beginning, and we have been able to implement that vision.

AAH Our most important strategic objective is to ensure we provide the best and most innovative offerings in an ever-changing world and work with all our stakeholders—customers, employees, the community, and our shareholders—to improve the lives we touch. Our motto is setting trends and touching lives, and this motivates everything we do.